New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has taken a major step forward in ensuring that the city’s AI systems are fair and bias-free after creating a position dedicated entirely to overseeing the ethics of AI and other algorithms.
AI systems are based on data, but the problem is bad data can contain implicit racist, gender, or ideological biases that can cause AI to favor certain groups over others. Plus, AI can be greatly influenced by the programmers who create it, which overwhelmingly tend to be men.
Whoever holds the position in NYC will work within the Mayor’s Office of Operations and serve as both an architect for algorithm guidelines and a go-to resource for algorithm policy. The officer will have the help of advisory and steering committees that will respectively draw on appointed public members and city officials to “drive the conversation” around algorithms.
To put it another way, the algorithms officer should have a better understanding of how algorithms apply in the real world and be able to realize the original goal of AI and similar tech, which is to empower everyone, not just certain groups. With NYC creating the position of Algorithms Management and Policy Officer, don’t be surprised if other cities elect to create similar positions.
This story was one of the best from 2019, and we are happy to include it in our “12 Days of Optimism” as we get ready to welcome 2020!